Audio Mixers: Dave Pensado; Dave Clauss; Ari Raskin.
Recording information: Chalice Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Chung King Studios, New York, NY; Paramount Recording Studios; Platinum Recording Studios, New York, NY; Quad Studio, New York, NY.
A wild mix of personal stories, high concept, and mixtape presentation, Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, To the Projects, To the Mansion is the sound of Wyclef Jean following all of his whims and desires as far as they'll take him, which apparently isn't as far as a whole album. According to the liner notes, this 17-track release is actually an EP, but like the mixtape branding of this being a "DJ Drama Presents" effort, all signs point to Wyclef marketing this as sideline release and not as part of his main discography. There are plenty of reasons to this, one being Wyclef's underdevelopment of this title character "Toussaint St. Jean," who is one-part 18th century Haitian hero, one part Wyclef rapping rather than singing. The character allows Wyclef freedom to complain about Auto-Tune, the spotlight shifting from Wyclef to will.i.am, and some other personal annoyances, but this free-wheeling mixtape will suddenly shift to more global concerns, and enlist Cyndi Lauper for help on the elaborate highlight "Slumdog Millionaire." Elsewhere it's Lil' Kim bringing some serious gutter talk to the table, and Timbaland bringing the club-worthy, ultra-cool beats, and while Wyclef has made sensible, well-flowing albums out of this kind of diverse material before, here he takes the mixtape tactic and gives Drama a shout-out when the going gets rough. It doesn't spoil the show, and listening to Wyclef go every which way while exorcising some demons will still please fans no matter how bumpy the ride. Casual listeners may prefer one of his saner and more stable official albums, but as free-form diversions go, this one is rather thrilling. ~ David Jeffries
Interlude - From the Hut, To the Projects, To the Mansion